He is, for my money, the best offensive player in the history of the franchise and a guy who almost always took more grief than he deserved in his time in Ottawa. Tonight, the Senators will play a game for the first time ever with Jason Spezza being a member of the opposition. There was a certain segment of Spezza haters out there, and that is in part what drove him out of town.
No matter what he did, it was never good enough and the fan base essentially ate him alive. While you could argue the point that is what they get paid millions of dollars for and he should have a thicker skin, but the fact is that treatment would wear on any player when you are the target for so long.
Personally, I was a Spezza fan and for the most part a Spezza apologist. While you always wanted more attention to detail defensively, what he brought at the offensive end was special and not replaceable. I accepted the fact that when a player handles the puck as much as he did there are going to be turnovers and when you have that kind of talent, you think you can make the spectacular plays more often than most, and you are willing to try them.
Whether or not the Senators are better off in the long run remains to be seen, because the Senators find themselves pretty much in the same predicament this season as they were in last, just for different reasons.
Anyway, the Stars and Senators square off with both sitting on the outside of the playoff race looking up at a lot of teams. For the Stars, after making the playoffs last season and adding Spezza along with Ales Hemsky, you have to imagine it is a bitterly disappointing first half. That being said, with 3 high end players they probably think that they can make up the ground as long as their goaltending improves.
The Stars have been hurt by the fact that sophomore Valeri Nichushkin has missed all but 4 games this season, and Hensky got off to a horrendous start that affected the Stars’ top 6 and forced them to go with Spezza-Seguin-Benn for a time and put their offensive eggs in one basket.
Robin Lehner, who hasn’t tasted personal victory in a month (3-2 shootout win in Boston), a span during which he has had 3 starts and 4 games.
These two teams will meet again later this month in Ottawa, as Dallas will come East following the All-Star break, when Spezza will make his return to CTC.